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Thursday, August 7, 2008

Sorry About Killing Your Dogs

posted by on August 7 at 12:52 PM

Here at Slog, your all-drug-raids-all-the-time headquarters, we get your tips. And we love your tips. Even when they exacerbate our pot-induced paranoia.

Today, we follow up on two panic-inducing emails about the mayor of Berwyn Heights, a D.C. burb, whose house was raided by a SWAT team last week. Officers burst through the door, forced the mayor to kneel in the corner, bound his mother-in-law in the kitchen, and shot his two black labs. Cops were there over a box of pot that was shipped to the mayor’s home, addressed to his wife. We posted about it last week over here, but new details emerge.

The pot was delivered by a police officer dressed as a FedEx delivery man. The sheriff for the county, Prince George’s County, had applied for a warrant to search the house, but, as it turns out, the judge who granted the warrant hadn’t permitted a no-knock, guns-drawn, battering-ram entry. But after Mayor Cheye Calvo brought the package inside, a fleet of officers burst through the door with guns drawn anyway. As everyone knows, the only way to tame a pothead is not with milkshakes, but with weaponry. And, as everyone knows, the only way to handle two grinning black labs is not by petting them and tossing them a squirrel, but BLAM! BLAM!


Neighbors hung a “We Support You” banner on the couple’s fence after the mayor and his wife claimed that they weren’t drug dealers—and it appears they were telling the truth. The Washington Post reports this morning that police “arrested a delivery man and another man, both of whom they say are involved in a scheme to smuggle marijuana by shipping packages addressed to unsuspecting recipients.” This should all be very embarrassing for the Prince George’s Sheriff’s Office, right?

Unbelievably, no.

Sheriff Michael A. Jackson won’t apologize for the raid, which he said was “conducted responsibly,” and Police Chief Melvin C. High (what a name) told the Washington Post his department still hadn’t cleared the couple of charges. He reportedly said, “From all the indications at the moment, they had an unlikely involvement, but we don’t want to draw that definite conclusion at the moment.” Jeezy Creezy on Cheezit, man, what else do you need?

There’s more. The mayor just asked for an investigation by the Department of Justice, which marks the second time in as many days that drug raids are becoming a federal issue. So while Slog may seem overwrought with crazy-ass drug-raid shit, the issue is suddenly getting huge. We’ll smoke to that.

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Unbelievable. Or, I wish it was unbelievable. The only recourse is to sue the shit out of these guys--they'll never admit to a fuck-up in public. Doesn't the chief of police report to the mayor? Tough performance review this year Officer High.

And, what the hell is up with no knock warrants anyway? Don't dealers ever leave the house?

Posted by Westside forever | August 7, 2008 1:18 PM

There is no Chief of Police; it's the County Sheriff, and no, he doesn't answer to any mayors. He answers to the County Executive, a fellow by the name of Jack B. Johnson. Somehow I'm not encouraged by his official website, which says "As you may know, I was elected to serve a four-year term as County Executive in November of 2002". Sounds like the Sheriff answers to no one.

Mr. and Mrs. Calvo need to get some bigger dogs, in suits and ties, and bankrupt that goddamn county.

Posted by Fnarf | August 7, 2008 1:33 PM

Sheriff Michael Jackson?
Police Chief Melvin High?

File under: comedy, unintentional

Posted by wait | August 7, 2008 1:37 PM

@ 1 & 2) It appears that Prince George's County has both a police department and a sheriff's department. Apparently, they were both involved.

Posted by Dominic Holden | August 7, 2008 1:42 PM

uh, then who is Police Chief Melvin High, as quoted in Dominic's post?

Regardless, I think things are going to be very tense around City Hall for awhile...

Posted by michael strangeways | August 7, 2008 1:44 PM

I can't begin to imagine the horror of losing a beloved pet to a filthy soul-less fucking pig.

What is wrong with these people? Over weed??!?!?!? Really?

Posted by Mike in MO | August 7, 2008 1:52 PM

I feel a whole lot better knowing that the folks down the road are keeping us safe from weed. Lovely. Way to go, PG County! Christ.

Posted by Balt-O-Matt | August 7, 2008 1:57 PM

Is there any way the FBI can plan a delivery of ... um ... Chinese take out ... to the Naval Observatory where Traitor Dick Cheney lives, and then call in the SWAT teams?

Worst case scenario, his dogs get shot.

Best case scenario, the SWAT teams get shot by Cheney.

Downside to this, though, is innocent dogs don't make it ...

Or we could just end this silly fake drug war ...

Posted by Will in Seattle | August 7, 2008 1:59 PM

The only way this kind of thing will stop is with a really large payout from a lawsuit by a pillar of the community such as the mayor. A recall campaign against the sheriff/chief of police and a ACLU led challenge would not hurt either.

Posted by LMSW | August 7, 2008 2:05 PM

You're right, I'm wrong. Sounds like the Sheriff was running the raid, though. What a fucking county that must be.

Posted by Fnarf | August 7, 2008 2:31 PM

I thought they always shot the dogs in a nation-wide effort to lower our carbon footprint (pawprint?).

Posted by Mr. Joshua | August 7, 2008 2:38 PM

Hope the mayor's on good terms with the prosecutor, because I smell criminal charges here.

Posted by Greg | August 7, 2008 2:41 PM

Hang on a sec -- the Chief of Police in Berwyn Heights is Colonel Patrick A. Murphy. Melvin High is the Chief of Police in the County, and like the Sheriff reports to the County Executive. And Chief Murphy is pissed off at the County cops as well. High also announced his resignation on July 31, well after the raid and scandal broke. Time for the Sheriff to do the same, maybe spend some time in jail as well.

Posted by Fnarf | August 7, 2008 2:41 PM

@11 - no, that's the cows. But, since they usually eat meat, I guess you have a point.

Posted by Will in Seattle | August 7, 2008 3:02 PM

Huge tactical mistake for the anti-drug folks to target a photogenic, media-friendly upper-class white family. That's the kind of thing that will actually make large numbers of American oppose the drug war. They could get away with fucking up unlimited numbers of poor and/or minority households. Not this though. Nightly-news watching America sees this and finally believes it can happen to them, and thus, gives a damn.

Posted by oljb | August 7, 2008 3:05 PM

So, um, that first little detail seems to be pretty important: "The pot was delivered by a police officer dressed as a FedEx delivery man".

So, the cops intercept some contraband allegedly addressed to someone else, but, because it's not in their possession they can't get a no-knock warrent, because of some librul, activist judge, so they take it upon themselves to deliver the package under false pretenses, but run into a complication because nobody inside is expecting a package, so they don't want to sign for it, so the "undercover cop" pesters an old lady until she finally DOES accept the delivery, THEN they blow through the front door on "probably cause" or whatever?

This guy's going to end up being the second or third richest mayor in America after the lawyers get done ripping this case to shreds...

Posted by COMTE | August 7, 2008 3:09 PM

Kill a dog, go to jail.

Isn't PETA located in a nearby suburb? Why aren't they marching against triggerhappy dogkilling cops?

Posted by enough's enough | August 7, 2008 3:25 PM

if this raid is the tipping point that ends the WOD, we ought to commission a bronze sculpture of those labs.

Posted by max solomon | August 7, 2008 3:26 PM

@15: Word

Posted by Westside forever | August 7, 2008 3:42 PM

Why is it that the officers working for sheriff's departments seem to do more stupid things than those working for city police (e.g., the Critical Mass incident last year)? Those responsible should spend a good deal of time behind bars and when they do get out, spend their remaining days cleaning dog poop from the county animal shelter.

Posted by Justy | August 7, 2008 3:58 PM

These cops had to have a grudge against the mayor in the first place.

Posted by elswinger | August 7, 2008 4:25 PM

Prince George's County law enforcement is infamous for shooting first and asking questions later, particularly when (as a majority of the people in PG County are) the people in their sights are black.

IIRC, they have been the subject of multiple investigations in the past.

Posted by qwerty | August 7, 2008 4:33 PM

@ 18: word.

Posted by Mike in MO | August 7, 2008 5:28 PM

Did the noivous cops gun down the dogs in a hail of bullets, or did they e.g. grab their collars and shoot them in the head? I'm just askin'.

Posted by Amelia | August 7, 2008 8:47 PM

@Amelia -
One Lab was at the door - common mistake by a dog, being at the door when a stranger knocks you know, and the other was RUNNING AWAY FROM THE COPS.

Sorry, I live in BH and the Mayor and his wife are freaking model citizens. He works for a company that works with Charter schools and has been involved in local politics since he was in high school.

The latest news is that they have 400 pounds in association with this operation, which means they KNEW the scam was going on well before last weeks incident.

I spoke with Cheye yesterday and all he wanted was an apology. I want them to sue for all they can get, and hopefully some heads will begin to roll in the police system.

I sure don't feel either Served or Protected.

Posted by RobMonroe | August 8, 2008 7:10 AM

If I were involved with the drug trade, even in the most minor way, I'm pretty sure I would just not keep any dogs, because it seems like they would inevitably end up shot to death if the cops ever got my name.

Of course, these people weren't even actually involved with drugs and the cops killed their dogs. Maybe I'll just abstain from ever owning anything but cats. They don't shoot cats, right?

Posted by Sarah | August 8, 2008 8:36 AM

@26: No, but they do shoot women holding babies. So no kids either, huh? Just too risky.

Posted by Greg | August 8, 2008 9:14 AM

Melvin C. High, the piece of excrement Chief of Police of Prince George’s County, Maryland, should be fired before he is allowed to retire at the end of the month, and the scumbags who killed those two dogs should be hacked into small pieces and fed to hungry dogs!

Posted by Welcome to the Police State | August 8, 2008 9:42 AM

I'll humor this Holden post, as this is a strange and troubling story.

My confusion here isn't with the aggro NARCs because we know the score with them... but with the method for delivery. How does it make sense to sell pot by FedExing it to unsuspecting recipients? Doesn't the recipient taking the package, before the connecting customer can grab the stash, kind of blow the whole thing? I mean, I know some potheads have fried too many brain cells to think clearly and all... but that just isn't reliable when it comes to covert transactions. Can't you just ship it inside a gift box or something?

Posted by Gomez | August 8, 2008 1:15 PM

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